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***BBC: THOUSANDS of kids wait yrs just for SPED plan; dramatic increases in requests

Jan 7, 2019, BBC: Families waiting too long for special needs support in England https://www.bbc.com/news/education-46658243 Thousands of children in England with special educational needs are waiting too long for an education, health and care plan (EHC), the BBC has learned. … Longest individual waits for a finalised EHC plan:  Suffolk: 1,023 days  Tower Hamlets: 1,014 days  Isle of Wight: 1,005 days  West Sussex: 973 days  Liverpool: 945 days  Dorset: 924 days  Haringey: 915 days  Havering: 898 days  Southend-on-Sea: 871 days  Worcestershire: 870 days The longest wait for an individual application was in Suffolk - where it took the council 1,023 days, or nearly three years, to finalise one EHCP application. Suffolk County Council said an increased demand for EHCPs had proved particularly challenging - happening at the same time as the transfer from the old system of Statements of Special Educational Needs Councillor Gordon Jones, the council's cabinet member for education and skills, said: "Our priority is to ensure every child gets the correct help and support they need to prosper and develop. "The increase in demand for education, health and care needs assessments for children and young people in Suffolk is a matter that I am taking very seriously…. The number of requests for EHC plans has soared in recent years. Sixty-one councils provided data on how many applications they had been receiving. Between them, they were sent 16,696 requests for a needs assessment in 2014-15, but 28,507 in 2017-18 - a 70% increase. West Sussex County Council told the BBC it had seen a 44% increase in the number of EHC plans it holds over the last four years. … The number of parents taking councils to tribunal to challenge them at various stages of the EHCP process nearly doubled over the four years - up from 1,041 in 2014/15, compared with 1,988 in 2017/18. …